On Thatcher as the Witch
A commentary I add to the uniformly black picture of Margaret Thatcher as found in The Joys of Teaching Literature - "Goodbye Maggie: Considering the Legacy of Margaret Thatcher":
I quite disagree with many of your views on Thatcher, as I tend to view her heritage as much more mixed, yours reads as the socialist view of Thatcher as, indeed, “the witch”. One might have expected at least some recognition or respect for her as an achiever in her own terms, and not in the least as the submissive woman who leaves the public sphere for men, as your account of her as a patriarchal puppet would lead us to assume. Whatever one’s view of her politics, Thatcher strikes one first of all as a strong influential political figure who provided a role-model for women in many respects and set up a higher standard for women in politics. That is, I think, the least one should grant her. As to her politics, maybe you think the situation in the British economy before Thatcher might have been sustained. Well perhaps it might have been, but then Britain would be today something like Argentina, perhaps, or maybe Greece. It is a path that one may be understood for not taking, especially from the point of view of the British establishment. Within the capitalist system she chose to be an achiever. Well, you can also scrap the system, but no one has done that yet—and the alternative, which Thatcher helped to scrap in Eastern Europe, was not all that enviable (to say the least) nor so alien to the workings of capitalism as is usually thought. And so I could go on and on questioning all of the views here… at least to provide a more balanced view of her actions. Take for instance the Falklands war, which you call “pathetic”. I take it to mean that Thatcher’s defense of her territory and its inhabitants was “pathetic”, not that the Argentinian invasion was “pathetic”—which is the way I would put it. The Argentinian defeat brought along the downfall of the dictatorship in Argentina, btw. But, do you think letting the Argentinian show of force go along and giving them the islands would have been less “pathetic”? I’ll only say that is a view which may be held by a cultural critic or a professor of literature, but international politics does not work that way, and Thatcher had to deal with the actual realities and responsibilities of a politician. Who do you think will look pathetic both to their countrymen or to historians—Galtieri or Thatcher?